Worried by increasing homelessness among Nigerians, which has been compounded by incessant demolition exercises across the country, settlement experts popularly known as town planners have called on governments to put in place solid resettlement strategies before embarking on demolition activities in the country.

The experts made the demand known to government during a retreat organised by the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) for chapter chairmen, general secretaries and public relations secretaries in Abuja

They frowned at recent demolition exercises in the country, pointing out that aside from rendering many Nigerians homeless, they have plunged many people into fear of uncertainties.

Speaking, President of the NITP, Mr Toyin Ayinde, said “Government should ensure that before people are displaced of their residence, a solid resettlement measure must be put in place to prevent greater problems.”

He attributed the cause of past and recent building demolition exercises to lack of strong public housing policy.

He said that more needs to be done in the country’s housing sector.

According to him, due to bad governance, people resulted to self-help by making provisions for basic social needs, which the government often perceive as illegal, hence leading to demolition and forceful eviction.

While noting that Nigerians have never enjoyed the dividends of good governance, Ayinde that said in spite of the Nigeria’s poor leadership and its far-reaching effects, citizens still suffer undue demolitions without veritable and sustainable alternatives.

According to him, government’s policies were not well articulated especially in the area of public housing.

“There is no strong health and electricity policy; so, we find Nigerians doing self-help. When the government can’t help you, you will do self-help. You are not guaranteed of water provision, so what do we do? We create our own boreholes.

“These are the things that are bringing possibilities of demolition. This is because there are too many people involved in self-help and you can’t blame people doing it because the government is unable to live up to the expectations of the people,” the NITP boss said.

Suggesting way out, Ayinde called for proactive measures in tackling the ugly trend, in addition to good governance in the country.

“We need to get the right people in government. The reason we are seeing different kinds of housing is because there is no public housing. When you go to oversea countries, you will see estates and structures built by the government with the same shape and height because it is just one organization building the structures and people would subscribe to it.

“But in Nigeria, no organization is building or what they are building is so insufficient and your landlord has asked you to quit. What else would you do if not look for your own land? You don’t have much money and then you build a bungalow,” he said.

Ayinde said “We are doing too much of self-help. We are not living as a community but as individuals. That is a problem Nigeria has. We must develop a nation because currently, we have no nation. We just have a connection of individuals. We must rediscover ourselves.

“This national conference that we said we are not going to hold; we must hold it. Nations don’t get established by chance but through effective planning and policies.”

Source : Nigerian Tribune